New Ipswich Catholic school focuses on community

One of three new Ipswich schools which opened this week will have a focus on building relationships with its foundation families and developing an authentic community feel.

St Ann’s School at Redbank Plains welcomes Prep to Year 3 students and joins Ripley Valley State School and Ripley Valley State Secondary College in opening the school gates in 2020.

A Brisbane Catholic Education school, it follows on from a small Catholic school in the area in the 1860s and 1870s. The new school was named after St Ann, the patron saint of miners, reflecting the important role that coal mining played in the development of the Redbank region.

“We’re going to be an authentic community school,” St Ann’s foundation Principal Sonny Smith said.

“We will be a school of welcome and we will be innovative, creative and inclusive in our curriculum. But the first term is really about building relationships, getting to know our children and families and our community.”

Mr Smith began as principal last August, overseeing work on a 3.2h site on Halletts Rd, adjacent to the Cashmere Rd Reserve. St Ann’s is part of the St Francis Xavier Parish, based at Goodna.

St Ann’s will grow by one school year at a time until it reaches Year 6. When it reaches full size, St Ann’s is anticipated to be a four-stream school catering for 780 students and employing around 50 teachers and support staff.

“There is real excitement in starting a school from scratch especially in a growth area like Redbank Plains,” Mr Smith said.

“About half of our families are new to the area, which underlines the need for a school and provides a great opportunity to help to build community. We are an inclusive school that welcomes anyone who wants a Catholic education, regardless of whether they are Catholic.

“Our teachers have spoken about embracing the strengths of our parents and the chance to work with them to maximise learning and to help their children achieve their goals.”

Brisbane Catholic Education Executive Director Pam Betts said St Ann’s is the 142nd school in the Brisbane Catholic Education network, which stretches from the Queensland border at the Gold Coast, north to the Hervey Bay region and west to Gayndah, Kingaroy and Gatton.

“This year marks the 175th anniversary of Catholic education in Queensland and we continue to grow,” Miss Betts said.

“Brisbane Catholic Education aims to make high quality and affordable Christian schooling available to young families. We have new schools planned for Springfield, Ripley, Greenbank and Flagstone over the next decade.

“Ipswich City Council’s recent research has shown that Redbank Plains is the fastest-growing suburb of Ipswich, and this momentum is expected to continue as new suburban developments are rolled out all the way to the Ripley Valley.

“We look forward to working with members of the local parish, community representatives and families to create a caring and inclusive new school at St Ann’s, which will welcome all those who share our values.”

The two new Ripley state schools, co-located in the Providence estate in South Ripley, welcomed their first students on Tuesday. The schools were built at a combined cost of $120 million with more than 400 students starting this year.

Naomi Meerwald is principal of the primary school and Brendan Krueger principal at the secondary school.

“2020 is a milestone year for education in Queensland as we open eight new state schools across Queensland. This is the highest number of new Queensland state schools to open on one day in more than 30 years ,” Education Minister Grace Grace said.

Augusta State School’s Prep and Year 1 students have kicked off the school year in a new two-storey learning centre.

Jordan MP Charis Mullen said work finished on the $6.3 million building late last year and supported 19 jobs during construction.

Ms Mullen said the new building is one of many new developments the Palaszczuk Government is investing in across her Ipswich-based electorate for 2020, including:
• Springfield Central State High School – over $10 million for 16 classrooms and the repurposing of existing courts into a covered area
• Woodcrest State College – $200,000 for a junior outdoor learning space and $300,000 for a community hub
• Camira State School – $150,000 for equitable access amenities
• Air conditioning is also being delivered to 10 schools across the Jordan electorate.

Pictured below: Cousins Malachi, Abigail and Layla Sparks ready for their first day at St Ann’s.

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